Natural Cleaners to Prepare you for a Safe, Environmentally Safe New Year

My Top Ten Favorite Homemade Cleaners! by Jillie

Don’t ask me why….maybe it’s the end ofthe year, but I felt inspired to make a compilation of sorts of all my FAVORITE homemade cleaners so that I could access them all in one spot.   I truly do hope you find it useful as well.  I have the absolute BEST OF BOTH WORLDS jobs!  I get to try out stuff I’m genuinely interested in myself (and would try, blog or no blog) and then I get to also SHARE it with all of you!  Which brings me so much satisfaction, I can’t even describe it. Some of the emails that I get are just amazing…and make a “job” I LOVE…even MORE of a pleasure.  I feel very blessed.

So, back to cleaning stuff. This obviously isn’t a COMPREHENSIVE list of all the cleaners I have tried and/or use, but to make it a manageable (and useful) post…I tried to narrow it down to the ones I use on a REGULAR BASIS. For example….even though I LOVE the EASY HOMEMADE OVEN CLEANER, I didn’t include it here because I only use it occasionally (thank goodness). Same thing with the STREAK-FREE WINDOW CLEANER.  LOVE it!   Just don’t use it OFTEN.

Hopefully this will serve as a nice reference post that you can bookmark and get to lickety-split when you need it.   And of course you’ll want to share it with all your family and friends!

Jillee’s Top Ten Favorite Homemade Cleaners

#1   As you can see…this cleaner has gone through a couple of different “interpretations”…but the ingredients remain the same…and its’ effectiveness remains ALMOST 100%! The only thing I haven’t been able to get “clean” using this is plaster-like hard water deposits in my bathtub jets. Still working on that…. (SEE UPDATE! I GOT THEM CLEAN!)


The BEST stuff (and method) I’ve used to clean our bathroom toilets….but ESPECIALLY the BOY’S toilet (if you know what I mean). Rated “EE” for Extremely Effective!



Did this post quite awhile ago and STILL love my homemade version of Clorox Wipes! These were probably one of the hardest things for me to think about giving up when I decided I wanted to try and eliminate unnecessary waste in my home. But that was before I discovered this alternative, which after using for almost 6 months now, I still am completely thrilled with.



Wow…this has been one of my BIGGEST CHALLENGES in the homemade cleaners category! Finding a dishwasher detergent/soap that WORKS and doesn’t leave dishes and glassware with a cloudy film has been tough! Finding a substitute for phosphates that we had all come to rely on for “clean/sparkly” dishes and that the government so rudely took away from us without any warning…has proven to be more difficult than I could have imagined. But after a lot of blood, sweat and tears on my part…well, maybe some tears…THIS homemade dishwasher soap is the best I have found thus far.



I barely have words to describe how GREAT this particular cleaner is! If you haven’t already….you are just going to have to try it for yourself to see what I mean when I call it Tub and Shower

MAGIC! If you don’t believe me… some of the MANY comments after the post from people who have been as blown away by this stuff as I was!



Love this stuff! While I’ve only been using it for a short time…I am constantly being surprised by the effectiveness of it on a variety of things in my home! Still experimenting with this one….but it’s definitely already a favorite!



Ahhh….what can I say about my old friend…homemade “Shout”?? I have been using it exclusively for more than 10 months now and have never had cause to complain. It just works. Well.



A somewhat controversial post…with a handful of people questioning the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide once it hits the water in the washer. All I can tell you is that I’ve been using it close to a year now and find it to effective AND cost efficient.



Just recently posted this again because it has become my go-to homemade laundry detergent. Like I say in the post…I have nothing against the laundry soap that requires grating soap and melting it on the stove…this no-grate version is just so quick and easy to mix up…I find myself going back to it again and again.


Another fairly recent addition to my homemade cleaners “bag of tricks”…but one I find myself using more and more. As a matter of fact, I just used it TODAY on some pretty dingy/dirty bathroom floor mats. I realize that white bath mats sound like something a CRAZY person would use in their home….but call me crazy…I always have (and always will) use white towels and floor mats in my bathrooms. (There are those Piscean OCD tendencies coming out again! lol)

There you go.   My Top Ten Faves….at least for the time being.

Rest assured…if I happen to come across something better….I will ALWAYS share it with you.


Recently, an environmental health and safety (EHS) audit was held at Santa’s Workshop to determine if the North Pole operations were in compliance with EHS regulations. Let’s listen to some comments being made at the scene of the inspection

Auditor: Thank you, Santa, for letting us evaluate your workshop for EHS compliance issues. Let’s start with environmental. First of all, there must be no pouring of alcohol down the drain. You are to deliver every last drop to those worthy adults on your “Nice” list.
Santa: Ho, ho, ho. It is yet to be determined.

Auditor: Secondly, any mercury-containing bulbs must be disposed of as universal waste. You must provide proof that your holiday lights meet the criteria of being “mercury free.”                               Santa: I assure you that the North Pole is a mercury-free facility. Why, we even insist on mercury-free thermometers to tell us how cold it is outside.

Auditor: Wonderful! How do you dispose of your batteries that don’t work and any electronic equipment you no longer need?                                                                                                          Santa: We recycle everything. We even make sure that the paints we use on the toys are 100% lead free!

Auditor: Sounds like you have your environmental issues pretty much under control. Now let’s discuss safety. Do you have a hearing conservation program in place? All those ringing bells are starting to get to me…
Santa: All elves who work around bells, buzzers, banging drums, or blaring horns are required to participate in a hearing conservation program and are provided with earplugs to wear under their warm earmuffs.

Auditor: Great! What about fall protection? How do the elves put the stars on top of all those tall trees?                                                                                                                                     Santa: All elves are required to take a course on ladder and lift safety. Fall restraints are used by anyone who must go on rooftops, including me.

Auditor: Have you done a hazard assessment for personal protective equipment (PPE) needs? For example, are gloves, goggles, and protective aprons available to all who need them?
Santa: Of course. My merry toy makers wear aprons and safety glasses. All who work outdoors wear warm gloves, boots, and snowsuits. I even provide PPE with my toy chemistry sets for the good little future scientists on my list.

Auditor: I guess there is no need to worry about shipping since you hand-deliver everything in such well-wrapped packages. Do you use placards/signs on your sleigh if there is anything hazardous on board?
Santa: Certainly. I have flammable placards for the alcohol you are so worried about…

Auditor: How is your respiratory protection program?
Santa: Under control. Everyone who picks up reindeer droppings has been trained, medically evaluated, and properly fit-tested to wear a respirator.

Auditor: Okay. There is one last thing to discuss. What about planning for emergencies?           Santa: We have emergency plans for everything from a sleigh mishap to possible mistletoe overexposures.

Auditor: You pass the audit with flying red and green colors. Congratulations!
Santa: Thanks. Now I have to be on my way to visit my friends at Tulane University. They underwent a similar audit recently and I want to reward them for all of their hard work. Elves, is my sleigh placarded? Rudolph, is your nose glowing? Seat belts fastened everyone? Up, up, and away!!! Ho, ho, ho!!!

We Should Have Had A Mold Inspection!

By Joan Stockfield

We are sharing this article, because sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else. This simply confirms our motto.. “Take care of the small problems so they don’t become big ones.”

For years, we battled a leaky roof. We patched it, but it still leaked. Water would soak the ceilings and pour into the house during a big storm.  Buckets and towels became our best friend.

During the winter, ice dams were another problem; we could not seem to prevent leaks. Eventually, mold set in. Everyone in the family has allergies, and we could tell that mold was causing a problem as our asthma and conditions got worse.

To add to our headaches, we had a leak somewhere in the chimney that plagued us for years. Nobody could seem to solve this problem, so water would come in through the chimney flashing and soak the living room wall as well.

We finally wound up replacing the roof, had the chimney redone, and hired a contractor to fix the visibly damaged walls and ceilings. This is where we made our big mistake. We did not have a mold inspection or mold removal or remediation plan.

The contractors fixed the ugly parts, not realizing that there was mold in places they could not see. Thousand and thousands of dollars later, mold suddenly started reappearing on our new walls and ceilings.  Our breathing and allergy problems continued. We decided to get a mold inspection this time, and were able to pinpoint where the problems were. We had to shell out a ton of money yet again for a contractor to come back and do the work properly.

If we had just invested the $1,000 for a mold inspection the first time, we would have saved about $10,000 and a ton of aggravation. Lesson learned!

Identifying & Finding Solutions to Indoor Air Pollution

When you think air pollution, your mind probably goes straight to smoke stacks, car and car exhaust. When you think of indoor air pollution, it might be a bit more difficult to picture. If you have ever wondered whether your home has a problem, ask yourself these questions:

* Do you suffer from sore throat, headache and persistent cough, as well as itchy, running eyes and nose when in your home, but feel better soon after leaving?

* Is the air in your house poorly ventilated, humid, or smelly and stuffy?

Answering “yes” to these questions doesn’t necessarily mean you have indoor air pollution, but it’s a good indication. An easy experiment is to try some of the solutions for indoor air pollution listed below and see if you notice a difference.

Health effects from indoor air pollution can be immediate and short-lived, or they may be severe and not show up until years after repeated exposures. The most common symptoms are sore throat, headache and persistent cough, as well as itchy, running eyes and nose. More severe symptoms include chronic breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.

One most effective ways to reduce indoor air pollution is to attack the problem at its source. If you suspect an indoor air problem, call a licensed indoor environmentalist. They will do a full evaluation of the air in your home, including your HVAC system and test for not only mold growth, airborne mold spores, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, asbestos, radon & humidity levels.

If you’re worried about potential exposure of harmful contaminants that can cause indoor air pollution, you have several options. The first is to carefully follow the instructions on all product labels, use them in well-ventilated areas, and store and dispose of them safely. The second is to pick a product that is made with benign ingredients. If you’re unsure, read the label: If a product doesn’t list its ingredients or has any “warnings,” it’s probably not safe.

Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can simply be sealed to prevent exposure, while others, like pesticides, you may want to eliminate. If you are planning on painting your home , you want to purchase paints, glues & wallpaper that have low or no VOC’s (Volatile organic compounds). Also make sure to check new flooring products, such as organic fiber carpets and certain wood flooring that does not have heavy varnish coatings that can off-gas. And most importantly you want to always run an exhaust fan or open windows when you’re using items with potentially harmful chemicals. High exposure to chemicals in household products and pesticides can irritate the respiratory tract; cause headaches, dizziness and vision problems; impair memory function and may cause cancer.

Ventilation is helpful at decreasing all indoor pollutants. Since most heating and cooling systems simply recirculate air rather than bring in fresh air, you’ll want to open windows and doors whenever possible, operate window or attic fans, and run bathroom and kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors. You especially want to follow these steps when you’re using items with potentially harmful chemicals like paints & pesticides.

Increasing ventilation can have one drawback if you live in a place with high outdoor humidity, like here in South Florida. Or in major cities that have high concentrations of outdoor pollutants, (think New York & LA),  increased ventilation may actually worsen indoor air pollution. The best advice in these instances is to run your A/C’s fan so you are pulling in air that is being filtered to remove any harmful particles, and only open windows atmoderate ventilation rates.

Aside from ventilation, it is extremely important to minimize the biological contaminants in your home by maintaining a humidity level of 30 to 50 percent. Higher levels encourage mold growth and dust mites. Keeping carpets clean and dry, and simply maintaining a clean house also discourage biological contaminants.

I would be irresponsible to talk about indoor air pollutants without mentioning one of the most visible indoor air pollutants to the environment: Tobacco smoke and even secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains 200 known poisons and at least 43 compounds known to cause cancer. Even if you don’t smoke, you may be subject to secondhand smoke if you live or work with someone who does. Each year“passive smoking” is responsible for 150,000 -  300,000 respiratory infections in infants each year, worsens the asthma of up to 1 million asthmatics, and causes around 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 35,000 to 50,000 heart disease deaths each year in nonsmoking adults. But the best news I can give you to prevent indoor air pollutants is do NOT allow any smoking in your home or place of business.

Does Mold Make You Sick?

If you ask the average person on the street, “Does mold make you sick?”,  they would likely tell you YES. And many “mold” companies will use scare tactics and elevate the severity of your infestation to raise the cost of remediation.

But it’s actually the airborne spores in mold that your body inhales, and as your body begins to fight off these fungi cells this lowers your immune system, and this is what can actually make you ill. So it is not necessarily the mold that is making you sick, but your body's reaction to it.

The black mold in your basement or attic may look frightening, but it may just be unsightly, and it is not necessarily toxic mold. All black mold is not toxic mold!

That’s why it is so important to have mold testing done. Testing will determine what type of mold you actually have and the count of mold spores, so that you can take the proper course of action to remove it.

There are over 100,000 different types of mold.  Most can aggravate your allergies and cause upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Those with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections caused by mold. However, if you have been exposed to toxic mold for an extended period of time you could suffer from a myriad of serious symptoms and illnesses such as:

  • chronic bronchitis
  • learning disabilities
  • mental deficiencies
  • heart problems
  • cancer
  • multiple sclerosis
  • chronic fatigue
  • lupus
  • fibromyalgia
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple chemical sensitivity
  • bleeding lungs

Mold grows in moist humid conditions when water soaks wood, paper, cotton and other products, usually as a result of water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. The organic materials such as these make for perfect “food” for the mold to grow.

While toxic mold can bring on the serious health problems, all mold can cause health issues in healthy people who suffer allergies.

So if you suspect that there could be mold in your home or business that is exacerbating you allergy symptoms, the best thing to do is to have it checked out by a professional licensed mold assessment company like us to determine the severity of your problem through air sampling, and then devise a plan for clean up that meets your needs.

Using House Plants to Clean the Air in Your Home

Great News! There are house plants that can help improve the air quality of our homes. Yes, a plant that can help clean up our living space!  NASA has done extensive research on house plants for their use as potential air cleaners in space stations and other tightly sealed homes.  Here’s what they found…

Certain house plants were especially good at scrubbing the air of VOCs, off gases from carpeting, particle board and certain types of finishes. Some of the chemicals found to be absorbed from these plants were:

  • benzene
  • formaldehyde
  • trichloroethylene

Unfortunately one contaminate that plants were not able to absorb is tobacco smoke; Although some of the harmful chemicals are no doubt reduced. Of course the the best reduction plan for cigarette smoke is “Do not smoke indoors!”

House plants that were found to be best were tropical and subtropical variety, which grow in low light conditions on the forest floor. So these are well adapted for home conditions with indoor lighting.

The soil is also a factor in contributing to air quality improvement, so make sure that the soil be kept clear of debris, so it can do its job.

So which plants made the list of best House Plants to
Improve Indoor Air Quality?

  • Hedera helix ~ English Ivy
  • Chlorophytum comosum ~ Spider Plant
  • Epipiremnum aureum ~ Golden Pothos
  • Spathiphyllum`Mauna Loa’ ~ Peace Lily
  • Aglaonema modestum ~ Chinese Evergreen
  • Chamaedorea sefritzii ~ Bamboo or Reed Palm
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ~ Snake Plant
  • Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’ ~  Heartleaf Philodendron
  • Philodendron selloum selloum ~ Philodendron
  • Philodendron domesticum ~ Elephant Ear Philodendron
  • Dracaena marginata ~ Red-Edged Dracaena
  • Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’ ~ Cornstalk Dracaena
  • Dracaena deremensis `~ Janet Craig’ Janet Craig Dracaena
  • Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’ Warneck dracaena
  • Ficus benjamina ~ Weeping Fig

To get the full effect, we recommend having quite a few plants. One 6-8 inch potted plant per 100 square feet is recommended. But why not at least start with a few of these air cleaning house plants? Not only will you breath a bit easier, they look great too!

SO how many of these plants do you plan to add to your home?

The MOLD After The Storm

We have all seen the devastating pictures of the damage that Hurricane Sandy did to the North East. We saw houses burning and being swept away in the waves of this devastating storm. Our hearts go out to each and every person who has been affected.

We have personally seen the damage and devastation this magnitude of a storm leaves behind. We want to offer some helpful information on what to do after the storm & flood waters have passed, no matter where you live.

If your home has suffered flood damage,  here are some helpful guidelines:

Check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. Contact the appropriate professionals immediately if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric and/or sewer lines.

Check with authorities to see if there is a boil water order in effect and for how long.  This is for your families safety and we highly recommend following these orders if you run out of bottled water.

Call your insurance agent who handles your flood insurance and file a claim. Very important.. just report FLOOD DAMAGE. Have the following information with you when you place your call: (1) the name of your insurance company (your agent may write policies for more than one company); (2) your policy number; and (3) a telephone number/e-mail address where you can be reached.

Take photos of any water in the house and damaged personal property.   

If necessary, place these items outside the home. Do Not Throw Any Damaged items away! Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting, removed wall boards, baseboards, etc) to prepare your repair estimate.
Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their age and value where possible. If possible, supply receipts for those lost items to the adjuster. Officials may require disposal of damaged items, this is why it is important to at least keep a swatch or other sample of the items for the adjuster.

Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and any other items holding moisture or water inside the building can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. If your home has been vacant or still wet after 48 hours, it’s time to call a Mold Investigation & Testing Company. Items need to be completely dried and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors. If any mold develops on walls, cabinets, window sills make sure to call a professional so you do not release mold spores into the air. If there is a funky musty smell in the air, it is time for an air quality test to make sure your air does not contain an overabundance of mold spores.
Thoroughly dry out the building’s interior. Portable dehumidifiers, professional air blowers and air scrubbers are useful and usually covered under your flood policy. An air conditioner can also be used to start the drying-out process and to make sure the humidity levels in your home are not to high.

Check your furnace for damage. Your water heater may work, but if the floodwater covered part or the entire tank, the insulation between the walls may be damaged. You may need to obtain an estimate to replace the damaged furnace and water heater.

If you have any questions on what to do or what you found, please feel free to call us, RJF Environmental Consulting Services Inc. for a free phone consultation ~ We are here to help (561) 674-4370


Preventing Mold During The Winter Months

Up North, the wet season is the Winter months..  unlike here in Florida where the rainy months are the Summer months. But any season that is wet and rainy is more prone to mold growth.

Prevention is the key to keeping your homes and buildings healthy. RJF Environmental Consulting Services, Inc. has put together a few tips that are efficient and realistic for our friends up North. Prevent mold from infesting your home during the cold rainy season:

General Home and Building Maintenance:

  • Keep sure all areas are dry.
  • Make sure there is good air circulation. Keep windows open whenever possible and use exhaust fans when showering & cooking.
  • If appliances or pipes are broken,  turn off the water flow immediately to prevent water damage.
  • If you have a basement, make sure to inspect & replace cracked or defective mortar in basements. Ifyour basement is wet or has water leaking in it, inspect the outside drainage systems.
  • Their are moisture-barrier materials that can be installed in crawl spaces over moist soil to prevent moisture intrusion.
  • Use a fan to blow out humid air from under any building.
  • If you discover a damaged roof, hire a professional roofing contractor to cover your roof with a tarp or tent to protect the building from the outside elements.
  • If you live in an area were temperatures get down into the freezing temps, very important to take measures to insulate pipes inside and out to ensure they will not crack or burst.
  • Check all the seals on your windows and doors to make sure they are not compromised and in good-working condition.
  • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly, especially after each season.
  • Make sure the ground around your building slopes away from the foundation so water does not collect around or is able to enter it.
  • Condensation is a huge sign of potential problems. Check condensation on windows and pipes. Dry out any area that show signs of condensation and determine if the source of the condensation is from a leak or the result of high humidity.

After a Flood or Heavy Rains:

  • Time is of the essence. Act quickly. Call in a mold inspection company, which can help in determining problems. They can identify any toxins and mold spores in your home.
  • Temperature is not as important as humidity is. Lower the humidity in your building will make it more difficult for mold to grow.
  • Open up windows if the air outside is less humid than the air inside. Otherwise, turn on an air conditioner and a dehumidifier.
  • Make sure there is good ventilation within the building affected. Use a fan, if necessary, to promote good air circulation.
  • If you discover a flood, remove as much standing water in a building as quickly and safely as possible.  Remember to disconnect all electronic equipment inside the building.

There are many simple steps can be taken to prevent mold damage as well as water damage during the winter months. However, keep the number for a mold inspection company handy should you require their services. These professionals can efficiently and quickly ensure your home is safe, dry, and mold-free.

Stay dry & stay warm!

Your friends at RJF…

Is it Mold Allergies or Seasonal Allergies?


RJF Environmental Consulting Services Inc is asked this question quite frequently…. “How do I know if it is mold allergies or seasonal allergies?”

The hardest thing about detecting whether you have an allergy to Mold is that it is so often mistaken for the same signs and symptoms that occur in other upper respiratory allergies. Mold allergy symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Constant stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Watering eyes
  • Sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses

Symptoms also vary from person to person, depending on age and immune health. These symptoms range from mild to severe. Some individuals will experience symptoms all year long and others may only notice symptoms when weather is damp and or humid, or when you are in areas that have high concentrations of mold. So, one of the best predictors of “mold allergies” is if you notice that you feel better when you are not in your home, or in your office or wherever the possible mold infestation is suspected. If you get headaches, stuffiness and other symptoms when you enter a building, it could be a sign of mold or other indoor air qualities.

However if you are experiencing these symptoms: stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes or other symptoms for longer than two weeks, you should probably consult your physician to determine the source of your symptoms.

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and may recommend testing to try to determine if you simply have allergies or whether your symptoms are caused by something more serious.

If you believe you have moldaround your house or hiding behind your walls and are suffering from any of the above symptoms for an extended period of time, we recommend having your house tested for mold or other indoor air qualities.

Indoor Air Pollutants ~ Their Health Benefits and How to Control Them

We talk a lot about indoor air pollutants such as mold. But there are so many more that are present in your home everyday that you might not even be aware of,  that are affecting your health. Indoor air pollution is defined as the presence of one or more indoor contaminantsthat carry a certain degree of human health risk.

Since studies show that people spend 65 to 90 percent of their time indoors, (65 percent of that time is spent in thehome),  the exposure to indoor air levels may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels.

An inspection by a licensed indoor environmental company can identify if these pollutants are present in your home and provide you with a written protocol on how to reduce their effects.

Click here for a great article by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission titled "The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality".